Cork artist shows solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in latest electrical box painting

Cork artist shows solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in latest electrical box painting
The latest electrical box painting by Kevin O'Brien pays tribute to Frederick Douglass.

Another local artist has shown his support of the Black Lives Matter movement with an electrical box painting in the centre of the city. 

Kevin O’Brien, co-founder of volunteer art group Mad About Cork, has painted a tribute to abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass on an electrical box on Grand Parade. 

The painting features a quote by the historic figure and also includes the hashtags Black Lives Matter and End Direct Provision. 

It follows several murals recently painted in Cork to highlight the Black Lives Matter movement, including one on Sullivan’s Quay and one at Fitzgerald’s Park. 

The movement has been brought back into sharp focus following the murder of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis last month. 

Mr Floyd died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes as he pleaded 'I can’t breathe'. 

Speaking about his latest piece, Kevin said the greatest significance is in the Douglass quote, 'I breathe, and lo! the chattel becomes a man' and its contrast with the last few words uttered by Mr Floyd. 

"There's a striking contrast to the last words of George Floyd which have since become a powerful slogan of the Black Lives Matter movement - 'I can't breathe'. 

"The quote itself comes from a letter written by Douglass on January 1, 1846, shortly after he arrived in Ireland. 

"He describes Ireland as being full of compassion and respect, and a safe refuge," Kevin said. 

"With the Black Lives Matter movement and anti-racism protests taking place across the world, now is probably a good time for all of us to look again at racism and prejudice in our own country. 

Local artist Peter Martin's mural in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Local artist Peter Martin's mural in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

"How do we treat black people and other minorities, travellers, asylum seekers, and poor people here? 

"Unfortunately, not all would share Douglass' sentiments today but, for me, there is hope in his words," he continued. 

Last month, Kevin honoured Cork nurses with a tribute painting on an electrical box outside CUH. 

He has previously honoured Cork legends including sculptor, Seamus Murphy, writer, professor and former President of Brian Dillion's GAA, Daniel Corkery and tenor and hurler Paul O'Leary on electrical box paintings dotted around Cork.

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